Some years ago, when on a trip to India, I languished in bed, tired and lacking in motivation, when we were scheduled to join a jungle safari in search of an Indian tiger. Mrs Monkey went on without me. Indian tigers are rare, right? Plus, the forest was dense making the rarest of tigers even harder to come across. Suffice to say, Mrs Monkey went along, and sure enough they spotted a tiger. Doh! It was the excitement of the day, even the holiday. I kicked myself and vowed I would never bunk off again.
So when I knew that we would be visiting the floating village on the Tonle Sap lake this was going to be my highlight and would not be missed. I mention the tiger story because on this occasion Mrs Monkey slept this one out and missed a treat.
Our boat was captained by an 18 year old, ably attired in jeans and flip-flops, and First Mate, who doubled as a masseuse (karate chops to the shoulders, $1, bless him – but another example of Cambodians trying to find ways of earning a living rather than begging), was about 12. That was it. Total crew of 2. I checked for life jackets.
The lake is full in early October and once passed the vegetation you could be forgiven for thinking that you were at sea. The whole waterway is fed by the monsoon rains, the Tonle Sap river and a back-flow from the Mekong, and at this time of year is teeming with life, aquatic and human.
Floating huts anchored in the greenery as we cruised down Main Street. Lake life was busy. People about their business under a bright open sky. I would have loved to know more about the people living this life and how they do it but the questions always dribble into your head afterwards, don’t they? Perhaps, for instance, do water rats and snakes disturb your sleep by creeping up the various bits and pieces that are tied alongside? I dread to think.
The environment is so alien to us Westerners I would have loved to have poured a beer and slunk into a hammock to watch water life go on. Anyway, it was a glimpse at least. I doubt that they are on Airbnb though.